If you ask any soccer expert they will all agree that the best coaches should be coaching the youngest players so that they can develop proper fundamentals and soccer techniques as well as grow the love for the beautiful game.
In the US the youngest of ages are being coached by volunteer parent coaches which in most cases do not understand the game, and proper development of a soccer player. The first goal of any youth coach, coaching youth soccer players should be to make the players fall in love with the game. To love something one must use it and come in constant exposure with it. What better way to love the game than by playing the game. On any given day in any youth soccer field you can watch youth soccer coaches making 4, 5, 6 or even 7 year old doing laps as warm ups. Those volunteer youth coaches are training youth players as grown ups not as age appropriate young players. Players at that age do not really need physical warm up, but rather just touching the ball warm up and getting familiar with how a soccer ball feels at their feet. After a short period of this, youth players, which have a very short attention span want to play the game. That is what they came to do, play the game, not do training after training activity.
American parents think that when young players are playing the game during training and not doing "DRILLS", the trainer does not know what he is doing and is not really developing the players. The BIGGEST misconception by American youth parents is that drills, not the game, is the biggest development tool.
Every season I try to schedule one scrimmage every week as part of the training schedule. Most think I am crazy and ask why I like to scrimmage so much. My reply is: “players like to play”. Off course having scrimmages, depending the age of the team allows to work on many other things and give opportunities for players to try new things without the fear of what will happen if they make a mistake.
The other misconception that volunteer youth soccer coaches have is that they play scrimmages to win. I always get coaches that I ask to scrimmage giving me this answer: “Sorry I don't have my full team so I can scrimmage”. They are so afraid that if they lose it's the end of the world..
As a soccer culture we have a lot of learning to do but we can not begin to learn unless we allow ourselves to admit we do not know everything there is to know about soccer and it is ok to watch, learn and implement other countries' successful systems of training.
One of the greatest underutilized tools in American Youth Soccer is the ability of a youth player to read the game and make runs off the ball or without the ball. The primary reason for this is that most parent coaches do not understand the concept of this or how it works and therefore can not teach it. US soccer at the grassroots level must be able to understand the concept of possession with a purpose and how players running without the ball are just as important as the players with the ball. The runs off the ball can create space, confuse the defense and allow possessing players more time to make a decision. SOCCERSKILLZ prides itself in teaching these concepts in its small sided game formats during soccer training in Ocean County in New Jersey. While players learn in a small sided game format it can be expanded to the big game of 11v11. Let's not forget that the big game is full of small sided 1v1 2v2 4v2 3v2 or any other combination battle. When players are taught to not just kick the ball and run, but try to work their way out of trouble via way of dribbling, passing and moving off the ball, making runs to give player with the ball options they will become more confident in their ability to maintain possession. Lastly coaches must stop yelling directions from the sidelines and let the players think for themselves. We have developed a robot nation who need constant direction in order to play. Remember it's a "player's game".
Following is an analysis on how to move without the ball, make runs off the ball and its benefits. Watch entire video as it gives many examples. The analysis portion starts around 6 minutes into the video.